Today, consumers associate protein powders and supplements as nutrient sources for healthier living. But about 40 years ago the only concentrated form of protein that was manufactured was egg protein. In the 1990’s whey protein became a big hit with body builders who wanted to build muscle mass and reduce recovery periods between training sessions.
Advanced science and technology has introduced us to protein isolates. These have become the latest craze because of their high protein content and versatility of use. Protein isolates, derived from milk and soy, contain a protein content that is above 90 percent. Each has a healthy amino acid composition along with several essential nutrients. This growing awareness is pushing the protein supplement industry to phenomenal growth. While Europe is still the biggest market for protein products, the United States is known to be the fastest growing market for protein products. According to Global Industry Analysts (GIA), the annual growth rate is predicted to be 7.6 percent in the U.S.
What’s Pushing the Sale of Non-Dairy Protein Alternatives?
The market is rising for non-dairy protein alternatives. According to a market survey report from Heyman, about 70 percent of the global adult population suffers from some form of lactose intolerance. Another reason that for the growth of this market, is the high cost of milk protein. In 2007, the cost of dairy protein suddenly rose by more than double due to the high cost of animal feed. Both of these factors have been forcing the industry to seek alternative non-dairy protein supplements.
Soy, in particular, enjoys increasing popularity mostly because of the FDA’s decision in 1999 to allow health claims on products containing soy proteins to state that soy consumption is linked to reduced risk of coronary heart disease. Growth can also be attributed to mounting research validating soy’s health benefits.
The recent success in separating soy protein isolates has given rise to a number of excellent soy-protein powders, protein shakes, and protein supplements. The isolate form of soy has boosted its protein content to 90 percent-equivalent to that of milk casein. For protein manufacturers, soy-derived isolates work out to substantial savings when compared to manufacturing milk-derived protein products. These cost benefits can be passed on to their customers.
Niche Market for Non-Dairy, Non-Soy Protein Products
While milk-derived and soy proteins make up 90 percent of the market, soy is the second most allergenic substance, next to peanuts. There is, therefore, a niche consumer market for proteins derived from other plant and meat sources. With recent fears of the adverse health affects of meat proteins, plant-based protein sources are the more preferred consumer options.
Non-dairy, non-soy protein alternatives with high protein content and a low glycemic index can be found in a number of excellent protein sources for those who are vegans, lactose intolerant, or desire gluten free protein supplements.
- Yellow Pea Protein Powder contains approximately 85 percent to 90 percent protein. It is rich in glutamine and BCAAs and contains a high concentration of arginine.
- Brown rice has a protein content of 70 percent, along with a high content of arginine which readily converts into nitric oxide. This enhances the absorption of nutrients, reduces recovery periods after training, and promotes muscle growth.
- Buckwheat powder contains albumen, the same kind of protein found in egg whites. Buckwheat contains sulfur-containing amino acids that are necessary for supporting muscle mass and reducing recovery time during training. It enhances muscle growth and promotes fat loss.
- Goat milk protein is manufactured as an option for those who are allergic to protein derived from cow’s milk. Goat milk whey powder has a protein content of 15 percent to 20 percent so cannot compare with the high protein content (90 percent) of whey protein isolates derived from cow’s milk. Goat milk protein powder can also be used as meal replacements.
- Research in Spain shows carob germ flour can produce isolates that have a protein content of 95 percent. In addition, they also possess a well-balanced amino acid composition (BCAA).
- Cranberry seed protein is another good source of protein. The seed has antioxidant properties, and contains about 35 percent of protein consisting of BCAA. The rest of the seed is fiber (both soluble and insoluble) along with Omega 3, omega 6 and omega 9 fats. Cranberry seed protein can also be used as meal replacements.
- Hemp protein powder also has a rich composition of BCAA, arginine, essential fatty acids and fiber. Hemp protein powder can also be used as meal replacements.
- Brazil nut protein powder consists of a complete protein. It is rich in healthy fats and selenium.
Protein powders are used by bodybuilders and health-conscious individuals. They are also used by recuperating patients and as supplements for children and the elderly. Soy protein, especially, has been linked to reducing belly fat and increasing bone density in postmenopausal women; soy protein shows benefits in weight loss management programs; is known to stabilize blood sugar levels; has cholesterol-lowering properties; liver protective properties; promotes healthy lungs and has shown beneficial affects in a number of research studies for various types of cancer. Protein powders are popular for weight-conscious individuals looking for high protein foods with a low glycemic index.